UK commercial broadcaster Channel 4 has confirmed that it has secured rights to the Champions Cup, Europe’s premier club rugby union competition.
The four-year deal, which was agreed with European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), will see Channel 4 cover nine matches live each season until 2022. Starting from October, the network will show one match from each of the six pool stages, one quarter-final, one semi-final and the final.
The news, which was first reported by the Telegraph newspaper last Friday, means that the Champions Cup will return to free-to-air television in the UK for the first time since 2003. Last July, pay-TV broadcaster BT Sport secured the rights to show the majority of Champions Cup matches in the UK and Ireland from next season to 2022.
“We’re thrilled to be bringing top-class rugby to Channel 4,” said Stephen Lyle, Channel 4 sports commissioning editor. “The Champions Cup is one of the most prestigious rugby union tournaments featuring many of the best players in the world and I’m sure viewers will be delighted to see it returning to free to air television.”
“To have live Champions Cup rugby on Channel 4 will take the outstanding rugby experiences to more fans so we are delighted to increase our coverage through this partnership,” added Carsten Couchouron, EPCR’s marketing and commercial director. “Channel 4 has an exciting sports portfolio and we are delighted to add to that as part of our enhanced broadcast platforms in the United Kingdom.”